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    Kellogg & Humbert Gold Ingot, 112.23 Ounces
    S.S. Central America

    Kellogg & Humbert Gold Ingot. 112.23 Ounces. CABG-523. Historians who specialize in a certain era tend to magnify the importance of their area of expertise and enhance their findings in publications and articles. This has been the case also with various books and articles that deal with the loss of the S.S. Central America in September 1857. There have been citations in some publications over the past 30 years that have attributed the loss of the ship and its $2 million in gold bullion as a main cause of the Panic of 1857. Few people today have the background in 19th century American financial history to question or refute such a claim.

    A careful reading of the causes of the Panic (the 19th century term for Depression) of 1857 shows financial distress in the eastern United States was well underway before the Central America left San Francisco. An article published in the August 22 issue of Harper's Weekly reported a national trade imbalance of approximately $100 million. Two days after this article was published the New York division of the Ohio Life Insurance & Trust Company failed. A wave of financial crises followed. Banks throughout 1857 issued paper money valued many multiples of the value in the coinage held in reserve to redeem the notes. Railroad stocks fell precipitously from January through October. Banks all along the East Coast failed -- one bank infamously could not redeem an obligation of payment for $250. Land speculation was another primary contributor to the panic in that year. Predictably, commercial businesses everywhere failed. At the height of this panic the S.S. Central America sank 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina on September 12, 1857. The loss of the $2 million in gold could have affected the financial markets more profoundly; however, as reported in The Banker's Magazine and Statistical Register:

    "The very prompt and commendable action of the Board of Underwriters, on hearing of the accident, will do to mitigate the inconvenience of the loss, a payout [upon] advice of the amount, at once."

    Viewing the Panic of 1857 from a distance of 163 years, the loss of the S.S. Central America can now be seen more as a tragic loss of human life; not as a cause of the Panic of 1857, but as a financial "inconvenience" that was managed much better than the actual causes that depressed the nation's economy at the time. Of the $2 million in gold bullion that was lost when the Central America sank in September 1857 the vast majority were from the highly respected firm of Kellogg & Humbert.

    The top side is laid out: No 687 / company logo / 112.23 Oz / 912 FINE / $2115.83. The same serial number is repeated on the back in a different font. Classed as a Very Large Size ingot (100 to 300 ounces), the surfaces are bright yellow-gold with almost no evidence of rust from the ship's iron hull. The ingot measures: 57 x 114 x 38 mm. Included is A California Gold Rush History, the standard reference for the ingots recovered in the late-1980s from the Central America.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    3rd-9th Monday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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